“We shouldn’t require our politicians to be movie stars. Then again, we’re all influenced by charisma. It’s hard not to be. We all collectively fall for it.” – Julianne Moore
The ability to be “likable” has been a long-sought after personal trait. Long before we could remember, we’ve learned that being likable gets us rewarded.
We learned that we’d get treats from our parents and adults when we made them smile, and were sent to our room if we upset others.
We learned that being part of a group meant support and affirmation, and being alone (probably) meant that there was “something wrong” with us – we were probably infected with the plague but we didn’t know – that’s why everybody shunned us.
In essence, being likable meant that we would get something we wanted – sometimes way faster and easier.
It was reward, it felt good… and it helps us get ahead
So, here thirteen ways to help you do just that:
1. Forget about Hogging Attention
People love it when they feel cared for and important. That’s why so many of us are programmed to ‘want’ attention.
The irony is that the more you try to hog attention for yourself, the more off-putting you become.
Conversely, you become more likable as you give people the time, space and attention to share who they are and what’s important to them.
Think back to a time when you’ve had some of the best conversations with some of the most remarkable and charming people in your life – weren’t they the ones who gave you the space and time to speak your mind, talk about your day and how you felt? Weren’t they also the ones who picked up on what you said and related back to it? I’m guessing that you were probably the one who did most of the talking, and they did most of the listening.
Being likable doesn’t really require lots of work, really. Sometimes, it’s as easy as reversing the role of the speaker and listener.
2. Forget about Pleasing Everybody
“I’ve learned that it’s not our job to make other people happy” – Steve Harvey, American Comedian and
Truly likable people are comfortable with who they are. They are relaxed and comfortable in their own skin, their strengths and weaknesses.
They recognize that no matter how hard they try, they will never be perfect, and they’re comfortable being vulnerable and being real.
Brene Brown, a psychologist and researcher who studied and wrote extensively on the topic of being vulnerable and authenticity, shares that learning about and being able to accept our vulnerabilities actually helps strengthen our personal identities, but also the way we relate and connect with people.
Whilst being “real” may not help you win everybody over, it will certainly help you win over the people who matter – and I, and I believe like many others, have learned through experience that being authentic and sincere is a big draw when it comes to likability as a person.
3. Forget about Where You ‘Should’ Be At and Focus on Where You Are At
The Dalai Lama once shared that people have a tendency to think about work, when they are at pleasure, and think about pleasure when they are at work.
The result is that the person finds neither satisfaction nor happiness when they are at work or at play.
Our inability to be present affects our internal balance, without which we are unable to experience peace of mind and joy.Advertising
Being constantly distracted also affects our ability to pay due attention to the people we are with, and prevents you from fully and freely expressing who you are.
Being present – being in the moment – provides you with an immense advantage when it comes to connecting and relating to people, and we will do well not to squander that opportunity.
4. Forget about How Much Money You’ve Got
The worth and dignity of a person transcends beyond the the amount of money they have in their wallet.
Yet, there are people in the world who appear to measure the worth of a person by the amount of money they have.
If you’ve seen this social experiment, you’d probably agree on who the dirt bags are – and there’s a fair chance they’re not very likeable with the average person either.
The irony of the matter is that to those who judge others based on how much money they have, they too will be judged by others (and themselves even) when they come across a richer person like them.
Truly likable people do not measure the worth of a person based on money – they relate to the common man or woman and see money as a tool to get things done.
Manny Pacquiao, anybody?
5. Forget About Hoarding . . .
Don’t get me wrong. Money and food are important. So are friends, family, people, moments, memories and emotions.
Some things come with a price. Others are priceless.
After fighting the best part of a decade crafting my career since my days in college, I’ve found the last four months of my life to be the most rewarding and hugely invigorating.
That’s not because I’ve finally achieved financial freedom. Far from it.
Rather, I’ve learned to invest some of my best resources by giving it all away to the people who matter.
That means, as a career speaker, sharing with a group of people, investing more time to catch up with old friends and even investing time and money to hang out with family.
While I was pleasantly surprised by how rewarding it was to actually spend more time giving away, I wasn’t surprised when I realized the effect that had on me and the people around me – I was happy, and I was able to bring that emotion to the people around me.
Moral of the story: There’s a higher chance that people like hanging around real, happy people. Don’t you?
6. Forget About Listening to Reply; Listen to Relate
“Nobody cares about how much you know, until they know how much you care”
Too often, we get so trapped in trying to respond with something clever to say, that we neglect to consider and relate to how another person is feeling
People are essentially emotional creatures, and the best way to connect with an individual, is to relate to how he/she feels.Advertising
So, instead of responding to what a person says, with what you know, it is probably more prudent to consider first how they are feeling and why they are saying what they are saying before responding.
Better still if you can draw upon a similar experience and relate to similar emotions.
I’ve personally experienced the benefit of having others open up and share more with me, simply by relating to and talking about how they feel. The amount of air time I had compared to the other party was low, but the level of connection the other party felt towards me couldn’t have been higher, and I credit to to actually listening to relate.
7. Forget About Whining (All the Time)
Nobody likes to feel lower than they are really feeling, especially if they’re already feeling pretty high.
So going to a party or gathering and dousing your negative emotions on an crowd is a huge no-no.
Sure, it’s fine if you gripe and rant a little, or update your friends on how you’re coping with the lows in your life
Yet, it’s our personal responsibility to manage our emotions and learn when it is to stop.
So if you must blow off some steam, learn to turn off the tap and redirect attention and conversation to a happier subject for discussion.
People like and are drawn to other well-balanced and mature individuals.
8. Forget about Keeping Score. . .
Keeping track of how much you’ve done for a person, or how much they owe you is not going to help you become more likable. Far from it.
Nobody likes a calculative nut, who goes the distance to make sure everything between you and him is accounted for.
No, a relationship is not an audit, it’s not a test and it doesn’t require a score.
There’ll be times when you’ll pick up the tab, and there’ll be times when they do.
Reciprocity is like a hug and a handshake – it requires both parties to reach out to each other and a deeper connection is made.
The only time you see a scoreboard is during a competition and I can assure you that both camps aren’t the best of friends when the scores are being taken.
9. Forget about being a Perfectionist
So often, we try so hard at trying to be perfect, and expecting things to be perfect that we forget that to err is human.
That’s not to say that we allow should ourselves to be slipshod, especially at our work. Far from it.
Rather, this is a reminder that, whilst we hold ourselves to highest of standards, we should cut ourselves and others some slack when mistakes are made.
Freeing ourselves up from being a perfectionist allows our moods and minds to relax and better appreciate spontaneity. We move away from facts and numbers, and more towards people and emotions – and hence connect better.
Nobody appreciates being around high-strung people.Advertising
10. Forget about Bonding Over Your Phone
Texts, Email, Apps and Games. . . technology has helped bring people together, yet it has also separated so many of us at the same time.
There are so many distractions placed in the power of our hands these days that good, old-fashioned conversations have begun to fade away.
Therein lies the paradox of communication and relationships; the more we try to express ourselves with the help of technology, the harder it is for us to build deeper and meaningful connections.
Relationship experts like Gary Chapman and Brene Brown share that healthy relationships require time to build, and that time (and patience) is needed for people to explore and learn more about each other – a concept I term as “building depth.”
It is my assertion that distractions, such as those from our mobile phones, promote our exploration of “breadth” in experience and less understanding in “depth” in relationships and personalities.
The good news here, however, is that a remedy is fairly simple: dedicate no-phone time during your interactions with people, and give them your full attention.
Leadership speaker, John C. Maxwell wrote that people want to know that they are “appreciated, understood and respected. . .” One cannot feel respected, appreciated and will feel far less understood if the person they’re speaking to prefers to hang out with a machine/device rather than them.
Likable people understand that, and choose to give a part of their lives – time – to people they are speaking to.
That’s a small gesture that makes a huge difference in the way you connect with people and how others perceive and receive you.
11. Forget about Passing Judgement
Forming opinions of people is a double-edged sword. Our ability to “read” people is a survival instinct which helps us identify quickly who are the people we “can” trust, and how are those we “can’t.”
I’ll be the first to raise my hand and confess that I’ve been guilty of this many times. It’s a job hazard.
Yet, recognizing that I’m prone to this, has helped me set aside my opinions of people, and have enabled me to explore and learn from and more about the people I speak to.
The ability to set aside opinions of people has helped me project a sincere curiosity in the different personalities, strengths and the unique stories behind each person.
Everybody has a unique story to tell. It is our responsibility to sieve out those stories, manage how we behave, and derive constructive lessons from it.
In the rare instances when you encounter an obnoxious brat however, it is perfectly fine to walk away.
Just be careful though, that if you find 9 out of 10 people to be dead boring or negative – the problem might probably lie with you!
12. Forget about Winning the Argument
Unless you’re taking part in a debating contest or your job actually involves trying to win an argument, it is perfectly fine NOT to win an argument an all the time.
Some would say that it’s that argument that makes life interesting, and that may be true.
However, it is also true that many people hate to be seen as “wrong”, or worse to feel that they are being “stonewalled” and “trapped” in a corner because all their arguments to escape have been sealed.Advertising
Likable people are capable of engaging others in a myriad of topics and explore various perspectives to a matter.
They are able to see the serious and funny side of different ideas, and aren’t afraid to explore perspectives that are different from their own.
That, is a form of adventure – and brings pleasure not to himself, but also to others.
So, when they converse or “argue” with others, it’s not so much about winning, but more of learning, exploring… and above all having fun.
Wouldn’t you agree? No? Sure, whatever you say; you win.
13. Forget about Trying to Get Something In Return
I know I promised that we’d be able to get what we want if we were likable.
Yet, the paradox to this is to actually expect something in return.
When it comes to being likable, people want to know that they are important.
We have all been primed to beware of the stranger who comes up to us and offer us candy when we were a child – we know that something’s not right, and we’ll have our defenses up.
To be nice to somebody just because you want something from them is a form of treason, because it suggests that you merely see the relationship with them as a transaction.
It’s superficial, it’s easy, and it’s cheap.
Likable people see relationships differently. They care genuinely for others, many times giving freely to others and expecting nothing in return.
That’s not to say that they enjoy being taken for granted, no.
Rather, they enjoy giving and blessing others with what they have, within their means, and come out all the richer for it.
I’ve learned, that when people like these do require help, they receive much more in return, not merely because they’ve asked for it, but because others feel genuinely inclined to reciprocate.
Through my research, work and experience, I’ve come to believe that building deep meaningful connections and relationships is probably one of the most sought after yet most underrated skills and abilities of our time.
That ability to be likable, not only helps us in our work, but also nourishes our relationships with people.
As an entrepreneur and educator who started his career at the age of 20, ten years ago, I’ve used some of these techniques to great effect. They have helped to accelerate my career and personal achievements – which is why I believe they too can work for you.
Now as we go about our work and life, I sincerely hope that they too work as well for you as they have for me over the last ten years.
It is my hope as well, that as you connect with more people and open more opportunities, that you too can hone, share and spread your gifts with those who need it.Advertising
At the end of the day, you don’t have to be likable to get ahead, but it certainly won’t hurt if you are.
Featured photo credit: atrapadoenunpueblo via flickr.com
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.
Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:
1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically
According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.
“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor
Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:
If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.
If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.
Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:
- Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
- Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
- Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.
Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.
To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.
Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.
Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.
Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.
Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.
Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:
2. Focus on your goal
One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.
Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’
Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.
Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.
If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.
3. Convert negativity to positivity
There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?
‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’
It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.
Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”
Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.
Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:
4. Understand your content
Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.
However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.
“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor
Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.
Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.
One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.
5. Practice makes perfect
Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.
In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.
Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!
6. Be authentic
There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.
Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.
Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.
To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.
With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.
Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:
7. Post speech evaluation
Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.
Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
Improve your next speech
As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:
- How did I do?
- Are there any areas for improvement?
- Did I sound or look stressed?
- Did I stumble on my words? Why?
- Was I saying “um” too often?
- How was the flow of the speech?
Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.
If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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